The government requires drivers to keep license plates on their vehicles to protect public and private safety. Commuters are opting to ride bicycles over driving cars for any number of positive lifestyle benefits, but cyclists trade off the safety afforded to drivers.
License plates are not required by law for bicycles in most areas, but there are various benefits to implementing this measure to protect cyclists in reckless riding behavior. Several American states have attempted bicycle license plate systems on a provisional basis, as documented.
A bicycle license plate is a type of bicycle accessory attached to the frame or seat post. The purpose of this device is for law enforcement officials to quickly identify and track down bicycle owners if they are involved in an accident and/or bicycle theft.
However, bicycle license plates have not yet become commonplace in the United States, with only one state (Minnesota) adopting them. But recent events such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan could make bicycle license plates a thing sooner rather than later!
When reviewing the pros of using license plates on bicycles, we see many of the same benefits of vehicles. Let's review a few of those items:
Bicycle license plates make sense because they are so simple to use, affordable and lightweight. More accountability would help create safety for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. They don't come without the cons, however.
While bicycle license plates can serve as an identification device for theft or a bicycle-related accident, they are not without their drawbacks. For one thing, there is no consensus on how to handle bicycle registration fees and/or licensing for cyclists nationwide (this would be necessary if bicycle license plates became commonplace).
Bicycle license plates may be more susceptible to damage than a bicycle's other parts, such as the bike frame. In addition, cyclists might think it's too "clunky" for their bike frame and handlebars due to the plate's size.
Bicycle license plates can require cyclists to carry one of those (legally required) reflective safety vests on them while riding their bicycles at night for drivers and pedestrians to see them better. However, this could pose an inconvenience if the cyclist did not plan to pack this accessory when they leave home!
As of now, it is unclear if bicycle license plates would be beneficial. The pros and cons of bicycle license plates are both valid, but it is hard to tell if bicycle licenses would be more beneficial or not for the general public.
The bicycle license plate has already been implemented in many countries and states. For example, in the United Kingdom, bicycle licenses are required for bicycles ridden on public roads or paths. However, UK bicycle registration is free to any bicyclist who registers their bicycle online with DVLA (Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency). A similar concept has also been enforced in California. Only cyclists aged 16 years old and older are allowed by law to ride without helmets if they possess a valid driver's license from another state.
The tragic truth is that more cyclists are injured every year than drivers or pedestrians. In the United States, in 2018, there were 6,283 pedestrians and 857 bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles. Moreover, these vulnerable road users make up a growing share of total US traffic fatalities: in 2003, they represented 12.6% of fatalities; by 2018, this had grown to 19.5%, according to PedBikeInfo.
If you're a cyclist who rides and commutes a lot and wants to be part of the conversation, it's important to weigh in on if bicycle license plates should be the future. Get in touch with your local representative and communicate your concern, whether you're for or against license plates for bicycles.
Whether you are a leisurely bike rider or consider more of a passion, all riders should be in the habit of regularly cleaning their bike. Simply put, a clean bike looks betters, operates better, and will last longer.
Even if you are using your bike just to cruise to the beach or around town, Bicycling.com recommends, "Cleaning your road bike monthly (or every 20 to 25 rides) and a mountain or 'cross bike more often". So, while it may be easier just to put your bike back in the garage after a few rides, making an effort to wash your bike monthly (even if it doesn't look dirty) can really help extend the life of your bike and help with day to day operation of the bike!
Sometimes the world seems so dangerous. We worry about accidents, cancer, and criminals potentially lurking around the corner. Actually, there's a much quieter, much closer concern that many of us overlook.
Inactivity is currently the world's fourth leading cause of death. It's a problem often confused and conflated with laziness and personal choice, but in reality the issue is geographic, systemic, and woven into the structure of modern living. (EuroNews)
That statement may sound shocking, but the numbers back it up.